Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hypocrisy, hypocrisy everywhere nor any drop to drink

Social and cultural liberals love to invoke the hypocrisy of abortion foes when it comes to the death penalty, war, torture, environmentalism, etc. Apparently, it's hypocritical to see a difference between a constitutionally protected right of a private individual to execute innocent, defenseless human life and the constitutionally protected right of the state to execute convicted, adult humans who have intentionally committed heinous crimes against the innocent. And it's hypocrisy to notice a difference in the way death row convicts get due process of law, but human embyros don't. It's also hypocrisy to note that the death penalty kills at most in the low three-figures per annum while abortion kills over one million per annum.

Who knew there's no difference between abortion and death penalty? And who knew that hypocrisy flows only in one direction: if you think abortion is wrong, then to treat death penalty or war or torture ANY differently makes you a hypocrite; but if you think death penalty or war or torture is wrong, then to favor abortion rights is perfectly A-OK. Who knew hypocrisy only applies to pro-lifers?

No one ever acknowledges, however, that the accusations of hypocrisy against pro-lifers can come from social conservatives on the flip side as well. If you're against Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a constitutionally protected right, you must needs be opposed equally to Lawrence v. Texas, which made sodomy in the privacy of one's home a constitutionally protected right. And in the six years since that decision, have we seen a massive effort from social conservatives to topple it? Ask any pro-life Catholic whether they care to see Lawrence overturned and most will think of their local St. Lawrence parish before a SCOTUS decision.

Oh, the hypocrisy of these pro-lifers. They're not fooling anyone about their social-conservative bonafides. They're no different than the social liberals who want to ban guns and religion.

Would any social liberals care to join this non-existent chorus faulting pro-lifers for not being equally opposed to Lawrence v. Texas?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Center-of-Attention Liturgy

Narcissists come in both homo- and heterosexual versions. They are attracted to the clergy, because they can be the center of attention and manipulate other people. Within the clergy, they tend to rise to the top, because they want more attention and more opportunity to manipulate people.

And so the People of God get archbishops like Weakland and Sanchez. And children are abused and die. ~Leon Podles
Nothing to see here, people. Addiction to versus populum liturgy has absolutely nothing to do with this.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Velimirovic didn't respect Spanish Catholicism much

Fascinating 1916 critique of church history don Adolf von Harnack by St. Nikolaj Velimirovic, by way of Ora et Labora:
Christianity is founded upon a drama and not upon a science; therefore its growth and development are dramatic and not scientific.
Proto-Balthasarian? St. Nikolai would probably have a lot of critical things to say about von Balthasar's theodramatics, but it's still noteworthy that both affirm the dramatic nature of Christian faith in contrast to the scientific or positivist mindset of the modernist heresy.
The killed and martyred kings, princes, bishops, priests and laymen from these [Orthodox] countries will not be ashamed before the martyrs from the Coliseum.
I do wish Catholics acted as if their every decision were made looking the holy martyrs unblinkingly in the eye -- another useful feature of icon veneration.
Roman Catholicism in Spain came through its test very badly. Before the Islamic invasion, and after it for a long time, the Christian population showed itself inferior to the Moors, in work, in justice, in progress. But to the honour of Roman Catholicism I must say that it stood the test very well in Croatia and in Hungary in its struggle against Islam. German cathedral Protestantism failed in its test. It is destroyed as a religion, it exists only as an archival science. It ceased to be what Christianity really sought to be--a drama; it is transformed into an indifferent scientific medium for reading, exploring, classifying, comparing, criticising. It is no more a living, dramatic being--no more the serving, ruling and suffering Christ. There is very little heroic or divine in it!
I have no idea specifically what about Spain, Croatia, and Hungary St. Nikolai is talking about, but the question he's answering is an important one. What does the Church's response to persecution and opposition by the princes of this world say about its members and their understanding of the true faith?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Catholic 'Imagination'

I've always had a problem with the so-called Catholic mystical or contemplative tradition. Having studied it in div school, I never found it very personally edifying or, more importantly, for real.

As I slowly wade through St. Silouan the Athonite by Elder Sophrony, I keep coming across insightful comments that inadvertently explain my many discomforts with Tridentine Catholicism.
The second [pattern of logismoi] applies to those who practise the first form of prayer and indulge in 'visual meditation' -- who conjure up scenes from the life of Christ or similar sacred studies. It is generally neophytes who adopt this course. With this sort of imaginative prayer the mind is not contained in the heart for the sake of inner vigilance. The attention stays fixed on the visual aspect of the images considered as divine. This leads to psychological (emotional) excitement, which, carried to an extreme, may result in a state of pathological ecstasy. One rejoices in what one has 'attained', clings to the state, cultivates it, considers it to be 'spiritual', charismatic (the fruits of grace) and so sublime that one thinks oneself a saint and worthy of contemplating Divine mysteries. But in fact such states end in hallucinations, and if one does not succumb to physical illness, at the least one continues 'bewitched' and living in a world of fantasy.
I have yet to read a Catholic anticipate and defend these concerns, whose scope reaches everything from Ignatian to Carmelite spirituality. It probably says more about my ignorance, but the current de facto sense of the faithful is that human imagination is a wonderful unalloyed good to be given free reign "in the Spirit" so long as it does not directly conflict with Catholic doctrine. I hear this Oprahesque sentiment all the time from priests, bishops, and religious. See how we tend to define spirituality legalistically and negatively, devoid of Christological substance? Christ is more often than not a foil or a guard rail to our imagination, not the purifier of the imagination.